POSTCARDS FROM EDINBURGH
Hello from Scotland! In my mind, the name of this country has always evoked vivid images of raw nature, rich culture, and cosy villages. One place, however, would stand out - Edinburgh's charm is second to none. The city's allure is in wandering the historical streets and closes, popping into its obscure pubs, and discovering hidden gems. The proximity to the sea and the dramatic highlands also adds to the overall attractiveness. No wonder it served as inspiration (and partly backdrop) for the magical world of Harry Potter!
Unlike other posts on the blog, this one does not have any particular informative value other than some trivia you might have not heard of before. Rather, it is meant to provide aesthetic pleasure, inspire future trips to this beautiful place or, perhaps, give nice flashbacks of a previous visit.
>> Edinburgh’s nickname, Auld Reekie ("Old Smoky"), refers to the time when coal and wood were predominately burnt for heating, filling the air of the city with smoke. It was also the world's first city to have its own fire brigade (albeit a volunteer one).
>> In 1766, a competition was held to design a New Town to help ease overcrowding in the Old Town. James Craig, 27 at the time, was one of the six people to submit an entry. His plan covered the area of Charlotte Square and St Andrew Square, Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street, Heriot Row, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for the stone buildings with large astragal bar windows and high ceilings, wide streets, and private gardens.
>> The Georgian New Town is 'only' about 250 years old. The name came from a simple comparison with the medieval wynds of the Old Town.
>> Like Rome, Edinburgh stands on seven hills.: Carlton Hill, Castle Rock , Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat. You will be quick to notice it on a stroll around town!
>> At a meeting in 1436, the Scottish Parliament ordered the closure of all public houses by 21:00 in order to fight street crime.
>> The saying “If you don't like this weather, wait 10 minutes” could have been coined in Edinburgh - the local weather is unpredictable. While on the same latitude as Moscow, it can go from bright sunshine and pleasant breeze to pouring rain and cutting-to-the-bone wind in mere seconds.
>> More than 47,400 buildings within the city limits are listed, which means they are of special architectural or historic importance. Apart from London, Edinburgh boasts the highest number of listed buildings in the United Kingdom.
>> Robert Louis Stevenson, Lord Byron, Conan Doyle, Irvine Welsh, and Sir Walter Scott were born here. As a nod to its long heritage of literary traditions, Edinburgh was the first place to be named the first UNESCO City of Literature.
>> Sitting atop a volcanic plug, the Edinburgh castle was built in the 12th century. It remained a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1633, making Charles I the last Scottish monarch to reside here. It also housed many prisoners, including 21 pirates of the Caribbean and American participants in the War of Independence. Nowadays, the castle is said to be one of the most haunted spots in Scotland, its most famous ghost being Lone Piper.
>> Today, Rose street is home to many cafes and pubs. Back in the 18th century, it was Edinburgh's red light district housing over 100 brothels where the term “picking a rose” was a common euphemism for soliciting a prostitute.
>> The National Monument located on Calton Hill is also known as "Edinburgh’s Folly" or "Edinburgh’s Shame". Reason for such uncomplimentary nicknames? Modelled on the Parthenon in Athens, the project ran out of money and was never completed.
>> The famous Royal Mile is actually one mile and 107 yards long (about 98 metres). The reason behind is that the original Scots mile was longer than the English one, but then it was abolished as a unit of measure by the 1824 Weights and Measures Act.
>> The grassy slope sited below Arthur’s Seat used to be the most famous duelling spot in Scotland. According to some records, the last duel that took place there involved Lord Shand, who was a Court of Session judge, in 1850.
If you are planning a road trip around Scotland, stay tuned for the upcoming posts about the 4-day self-guided driving tour from Glasgow through the Highlands I did with a friend of mine.
Have you been to Edinburgh? Share your experience in the comments below!
Happy travels x